1. The doctrine of reincarnation is not indigenous in China. We must consider this opening passage as showing a strong Hindu influence which was introduced to China through Buddhism. The Jâtaka Stories tell us that Buddha appeared a great many times as a Bodhisatthva on this earth, again and again practising the six virtues of perfection (pâramitâ). The Taoist Book of Incarnations (Hua Shu), contains narrations of the previous lives of Lord Scripture Glory, written in the same tone as the Buddhist Jâtaka.
2. For the exact meaning of this word see the Preface.
3. We omit here a few lines which to the English reader, not familiar with Chinese ways, would appear to interrupt the context. In the opening sentence of the Chinese text, Lord Scripture Glory alludes to a number of moral stories, well known among the Chinese, as instances of rewards of virtue. We have removed the lines here omitted to the Chinese Commentary, where they are printed in the same type as our translation of the text of Yin Chih Wen, so as to render them easily recognizable. For all we know the passages may be a later addition which has crept into the text, but even then, of course, they must be older than the commentaries belonging to them in which the stories alluded to are told. For further details see the Chinese Commentary 3-6, entitled "A Good Judge," CC4 "Humaneness Rewarded," CC5 "Saving Many Lives," and "The Double-Headed Snake." CC6
4. "Bliss of happiness" is a Buddhist term and its Sanskrit original is probably punyakshetra.
5. The word benevolence translates the Chinese fang pien literally "deeds of benevolence," which is the common version
of the Buddhist term upâya and means "method" or "successful way of attaining an end." It is especially applied in the literature of the Mahayana, in the sense which the English word "method" has acquired among Wesleyan Methodists. Prajnâ, "wisdom," is in itself insufficient because it is enlightenment in the abstract. In order to become efficient for salvation it must be applied, and the method of applying prajnâ is upâya, commonly designated kausala, i. e., "good or excellent." The method of salvation according to Buddhist teachers is by "deeds of benevolence" as indicated by its Chinese translation.
The commentator interprets the term fang pien in a popular sense and takes it for "any deed that is beneficial to others." In Buddhism this word plays a very important part, and its adoption here shows how strongly the author of this short treatise was influenced by Indian thought.
6. "Creatures" should be understood in the broadest sense, for it refers to all objects about us.
7. "Impartiality of heart" again belongs to Buddhist phraseology. The Sanskrit original is samatâcitta or samatâhridaya. The commentator, however, understands it in the sense of the Confucian Golden Rule, that whatever you do not desire to have done to you, you should not do to others (the Lun Yü, XII, 21), and also in the Buddhist sense that a Bodhisattva (intelligent being) should be free from the thought of an ego (atmasamjnâ). (The Diamond-Cutter Sutra.)
8. According to a Chinese Buddhist sutra, the first obligation is to the parents, the second to all sentient beings, the third to the ruler of the country, and the fourth to the Triple Treasure (triratna) of Buddhism. Though the author must have borrowed the idea from Buddhism, the commentator's enumeration does not agree with the latter. He puts teachers and elders in place of the Triple Treasure, and Heaven and Earth, for all sentient beings.
9. The three doctrines are Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. The commentator evidently thinks humaneness (jên) to be the essence of Confucianism, compassion (karunâ) that
of Buddhism, and response and retribution (kan ying) that of Taoism, and declares that they all come out of the human heart, which is one and the same in all three religions.
10. It is strange that the author does not say anything here about the relation between husband and wife, while he is manifestly referring to the five eternal virtues (wu chang) of Confucianism.
11. The term "the Truthful One" (i. e., chen) refers to the religion of the Taoists. Chen may denote Lao Tze, or the doctrine in general, or Taoist saints, or the Taoist sacred book, T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying Pien.
12. The term "Sutras" originally refers only to Buddhist books, but the commentator does not wish to have the phrase interpreted in that sense, and says: "Though they seem specifically to denote Buddhist literature, we may better understand them as virtually including all the classical books belonging to the three religions."
13. This is a Buddhist custom, for the saving of lives is considered to be very meritorious. The Buddhist theory is that if in this life we do not act humanely we are sure to be born in the form of a lower animal and to suffer for what we have done. We may perchance find some of our own ancestors among horses or dogs or birds whom we now treat carelessly and contemptuously, forgetting the good they did for us.
14. This is also distinctly a Buddhist sentiment, not originally found in China.
15. In the Lun Yü (Confucian Analects) we read: "The Master angled, but did not use a net. He shot, but not at birds perching." (XII, 27.) The passage is understood to mean that Confucius was so tender-hearted as not to take advantage of animals when hunting, and that he killed them only when it was necessary for the sustenance of human life.
16. The Chinese show great respect for writing and writing materials, because, they say, by them we become acquainted with the virtues, wisdom and sayings of ancient sages. Any
writing, to the Chinese, partakes of the nature of spirit, and there is a special order of monks who make it their duty to collect written scraps of paper and burn them, to save them the disgrace of any disrespectful treatment.
17. Says a Taoist sage, according to the commentator: "I have three canonical books, which altogether consist of only six characters. The one-character book reads, 'Meekness'; the two-character book, 'Good-will'; and the three-character book, 'Do your duty.' These three sacred books are not found in the Great Tripitaka [collection of Buddhist literature], but in your own heart."
18. "Let go hatred" translates the words hsieh yüan. "To owe a grudge" is called in Chinese, "Tieing (the knot of) hatred or enmity," that is, chieh yüan; and so to return to an amicable relation is conceived as a loosening, or untieing.
19. This means not to forget for a moment the deeds or instructions of wise men of old, "to be always on guard lest the heart might go astray." Says Confucius (Lun Yü, IV, 5): "The superior man does not, even for a space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste his mind dwells on it. In time of danger his mind dwells on it." In the Chung Yung, (Doctrine of the Mean), it is said that the tao ("path," or "doctrine") is not for a moment to, be ignored, for that which can be ignored is not the tao.
20. This is decidedly Confucian. The Great Learning (Tai Hsiao) as well as The Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung) teach one to be watchful over himself when he is alone. This watchfulness is not merely intellectual, but full of religious feelings. In spite of their agnostic tendencies, the Confucians show a great earnestness and solemn reverence toward Heaven's Reason (Tien Tao).
21. This is one of the noblest injunctions given by the Buddha. (The Dhammapada, verse 183). In Pali it reads:
"Sabba pâpassa akaranam,
Niao Che, a Buddhist recluse who lived in Hang Chou about 800 A. D., declares: "Even a three year old child can
say this, but even a gray-haired man finds it difficult to practise." Cf. also Psalm xxxiv, 14 and xxxvii, 27.
22. "The Chinese word shen means god or any spiritual being, and according to the context would here best be translated by "angel."